Perdida Enlivens South Gaylord With Baja-Style Cuisine

Early this month, the Gastamo Group — founders of Park Burger, Park and Co., Homegrown Tap and Dough and Birdcall — helped to cut through the tundra with the opening of a massive homage to sunnier pastures, coastal galavanting and the cuisine of Baja California and its equally flamboyant neighbors. Perdida — a glistening, multilevel, 225-seat dinner destination — debuted in full swing, serving a menu of first-class contemporary Mexican fare. Revamping the space that formerly held The Tavern Wash Park, the new room is all azure tile, beaded and wicker light fixtures and natural light — courtesy of a brilliant skylight that crowns the central bar. Abundant patio space teases spring, with the food matching the decor’s exuberance. While currently limited to 100 seats, the locale feels spacious, with a buzz that resembles a hazy recollection of beachside patios.

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Down to the detail, the restaurant was inspired by a 2018 trip that co-owner Peter Newlin and Chef Philippe Failyau took along Mexico’s west coast. Glossy surfaces, surf videos and mermaid wallpaper in the bathroom set nautical the tone, each element a calculated directive towards easy living. The back patio — complete with a refurbished VW Van and vivid mural by Lindee Zimmer — beckons a thaw, sea breeze whispering from between the cracks. Cowhide barstools speak to the place’s refinement, each nuance playing up the casual luxury. Newlin — with an eye for establishing a succinct atmosphere — hand-selected each of the space’s cover-worthy elements.

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The menu itself was developed by Failyau and acting chef de cuisine Charles Rivera. Rivera — a Los Angeles native — began his hospitality career after moving to Colorado. He cites the Boulder Chophouse for being instrumental in teaching him to sauté, fry, roast, to cook and use fire in general. From there he moved to Humboldt Kitchen and bar before veering into a multi-year stint at Avista Adventist Hospital. He returned to cooking with a job at Lola Coastal Mexican, before moving to Ace Eat Serve. Perdida marks his first time acting as chef de cuisine, though Rivera runs the kitchen with confidence and the firm understanding of a seasoned chef.

While The Tavern’s kitchen was hidden in the basement, Perdida’s open prep area adjoins the bar, the wood-fired grill ablaze as the spot’s obvious centerpiece. Entrees all arrive from the wood-fired grill, with the seared scallops ($34) — with crispy rice fritters, pepitas and guajillo coconut sauce — beautifully displaying Rivera’s penchant for perfectly-executed simplicity. However understated, the crown jewel may be the chile-crusted carnitas tacos ($15) — the tender pork shoulder melting alongside finely-chopped grilled pineapple, house-made pico, cotija and adobo sauce. Saving room for dessert is a must, as the churros ($8) come with a house-made cajeta that will make diners forget that caramel ever had any importance. It also bears mentioning that the flan ($6) is prepared sous vide.

Continuing the expanse, Gastamo is set to open a tequila-focused taco bar in the spring, with a third Homegrown Tap and Dough location aimed to open in Ken Caryl shortly thereafter.

Perdida is located at 1066 South Gaylord St., Denver. It is open Sunday – Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

All photography courtesy of Stephan Werk.